Airbnb’s racism problem is much bigger than a few racist hosts.
David Robinson
1.2K126

As an Airbnb host in PDX, I compete with “hosts” that manage multiple properties with varying degrees of what I call sharing authenticity. It’s challenging from a neighborhood perspective to know this is a trend, but the mechanics of the platform, and other platforms like VRBO, Wimdu, Roomorama, encourage the kind of entrepreneurial zeal being produced to maximize profits from housing resources. The reality is that’s what the whole capitalist game is based on.

And whether you figure out the tea leaves to come up with only hosts that actually live in the space you’re sharing, it’s still about the exercise of the resource, which advertently or inadvertently puts pressure on the availability of places to live. Would it be better for someone with an extra room to downsize to a smaller space and let, say, a family with the need for the room move into the Airbnb room? Sure. Is that going to happen in this culture? Not likely. So, as a people, we are stuck with the outcome. Strangers wandering around our streets looking for their beds. Kind of unsavory if you think too much about it. And while this has nothing to do with the color of the stranger’s skin, it could, and that’s when things can get even dicier. And the race card, when it comes to the sharing economy, weighs more heavily on minorities. Actually, everything related to the economy impacts minorities to a greater degree. This is, once again, more about net worth than anything else.

The sharing economy is not going to solve this problem. Eliminating racism is not going to solve this problem. All we can do is scratch out the livings we’ve created and contribute where possible. I didn’t take housing out of circulation to create my Airbnb. It was a storage room in my office and I figured out a way to lock it off for guests, while maintaining my workspace. I don’t particularly like the Airbnb environment from a customer service perspective, it’s just broken. But I make up for it by being a savvy host, with years of experience in property management. I don’t discriminate. I just want people to feel comfortable and to get paid for the opportunity. All while not contributing to the housing shortage we have here in PDX. Finding a solution for that will have to be another day…

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